Solo travel is one of the most beautiful things you can do in life. It forces you to meet yourself in a way that you didn’t know was possible. When I first started traveling solo, and even still to this day, I would always get mixed reactions from those I told. Some people would be ecstatic for me. Some would be cautious. And some would tell me that “There was no way a small girl like you should travel alone.”
To those people, you are wrong. If I had listened to everyone that told me I couldn’t travel by myself, I wouldn’t have gotten to witness Machu Picchu. The Bolivian Salt Flats. Played with the penguins in Cape Town. Skied in the Swiss Alps. Wandered the deserts of Morocco. The world is a beautiful place filled with good people. There are places more magnificent than a camera could ever capture. There is an entire world out there waiting to be discovered by you. Don’t listen to what others say, go and see for it yourself.
Uyuni Salt Flats
For those of you curious about solo travel or those who want to do it yourself, I am here cheering you on! It will be the best, most empowering decision you’ll ever make. And I’m also here to tell you some things that have kept me safe and my mind at ease over the years.
Do your research
If you’ve never traveled solo before, do your research into what destination might be best for you. Do you want to go to the beach? A city? When you visualize your perfect vacation, what does it entail? Once you find some destinations, look into the culture, customs, and things to do to make sure you have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into!
Blue Lagoon Iceland
Make copies of your passport and credit cards
Always have a copy of your documents somewhere separate in case your stuff gets lost.
Send an itinerary to someone close to you
Whether you plan out your whole trip or just the beginning, be sure to send someone your travel plans. This includes the place you’ll be staying, what time you’re arriving, and any cities you plan on traveling to. I personally don’t do much research before I leave but I always have my first accommodation booked and tell people what my plans are along the way.
Approach other solo travelers
It can be intimidating to approach groups of travelers while traveling solo. A lot of times, if you are traveling by yourself and wanting to make friends, there are others in the same boat as you! You might feel silly but I always love going up to solo travelers because both of you are probably feeling nervous and wanting to make friends but neither of you knows where to start. Be the first one to spark a conversation, I guarantee more times than not you’ll make friends quickly.
Connect with other travelers through Instagram
For a while, most of my friends were working full-time jobs and couldn’t travel or didn’t have interest in traveling to the places I wanted to go to. I was super grateful that I got to meet people I had known through Instagram on trips and since we had been following each other for a while, it was an instant friendship! If you find out you’re going to be in the same place as someone you know through Instagram, try to arrange a meet up!
Meeting up with Courtney of @earthcoco_
Bring a journal/book
When you’re traveling by yourself, you have a lot of time for introspection. And because you won’t always have someone around to discuss how you’re feeling, I always travel with a journal so I have a place to empty my mind. It’s also amazing to be able to look back at the person you were at that point in your life and the feelings you were experiencing later on. I threw a book in there too because sometimes I don’t want to sit on my phone and a book is a great way to enjoy your down time.
Walk like you own the place
Even if you don’t know where you are, always walk with confidence and like you know exactly what you’re doing. If you seem lost, you’ll be an easier target. If you need to ask for directions, avoid standing in one spot looking at a map or your phone if you can. Ask people around you for help. I always look out for other women when I need help because I feel like women are more inclined to help other women.
Stay in hostels
Staying in hostels is the best way to meet people while traveling! There are common areas, hostel events like bar crawls or walking tours, and it’s a much more welcoming environment than if you stay by yourself in a hotel. However, if you are going on vacation to enjoy some solo time and get away from others, I would recommend getting an Airbnb so you don’t feel like you have to socialize. Otherwise, I have met some of my greatest travel friends in hostels and cannot recommend them enough! Check out Hostelworld when looking for hostels, it’s the number one hostel resource online.
Get recommendations from the hostel staff
The first thing I do when I get to a hostel is ask the staff what they recommend doing in town. Most of the time hostel staff are locals and know some great insider spots that you might not discover on your own.
Try not to overpack
The more you travel, the less you pack because you realize you end up wearing the same 3 outfits over and over anyways and you don’t want to lug around luggage. If you’re traveling with a backpack, you’ll want to pack even lighter. One of my favorite tips: packing tubes! They literally changed the packing game for me. It keeps all your stuff organized and easy to access. And my greatest advice to you is if you never wear that crop top at home, don’t bring it on vacation because you’re not likely to wear it while traveling either! The less you bring, the more room you have for shopping or souvenirs!
I hope these tips gave you some more confidence to take the jump and travel on your own. You have one life to live and if you want to travel, GO! Don’t wait for someone to go with you or you might end up waiting your whole life.
Yosemite National Park
If you would like any help with planning a solo trip or suggestions, feel free to reach out to me via my website www.ridingaroundtheglobe.com or on IG @joelleriding.
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